Sunday, February 15, 2009

How We Are Doing Now

We got back to Maui on Monday. It seems all green and blue technicolor after being in wintry gray Virginia for the past 10 weeks. Despite the gloomy skies of the east coast, the warmth of our family circle got us through our first Christmas without Joey and into a new year. We needed each other like a chilled person needs to be wrapped in a thick blanket. We didn't do much, but were comforted by the little things: meals together, our grandchildren's "performances", walks in the woods, and the silly antics of the three dogs, Rommel, Maggie and MJ.

Being back on Maui is like returning to an empty house. It's beautiful but lonely for us. Not that our Maui friends don't care, because they do. The problem is simply that we have so many memories here and painful reminders of a life that will never be again. The waves he surfed, the porch he stored his board on, the lanai we ate breakfast on, the bed he slept in....we see Joey everywhere, but he's not here, and it aches all the time.

The relentless ache of grief can't be easily soothed. Nothing makes it go away completely. It's always there now, like a burdensome relative who's moved into the house to stay. A few things quiet it momentarily and we give ourselves breaks with those things as much as we can. Anything funny is really helpful, so I've gotten into the habit of watching old episodes of funny shows on my dvd player, just so I won't sink into sadness. Who knew Seinfeld and the Office would be such great therapy?

We still don't do much. I come up with all kinds of ideas of things I could do or should do, and before losing Joey, WOULD do, but now I don't follow thru on many of them. No energy for anything extra. I hope all the time that people will understand when I don't call, don't show up, don't go out, don't move off the couch, don't laugh, and don't want to talk about it. Sometimes it is necessary to keep myself in a suspended state of animation, then I don't feel and don't have to think about what I lost. I just keep the pain at bay for a little while.

What we lost? Too much to say, but a short list reads like this: a best friend to each of us, tall hugs from a man (not my husband) who adored me, a tower of strength, a fount of love, a scrabble partner, a comedian, an interested and inquisitive conversationalist, an inspiring motivator, an adventurer, a cool and informed cultural guide, a future daughter-in-law and grandchildren, someone who would laugh at adversity, and smile at everyone else. He made our world safer, kinder and funnier. Now we all have to do life without his wisdom and humor to soften the blows and inspire us up and over the walls.

Can we do it? Yes, we always knew from the first night that we could do it. We knew God would give us the strength to bear our loss and that there was ultimate hope. We just didn't want to have to do it. And it hurts more than we ever imagined that first night, when denial protected us and we didn't yet know what it meant to not have Joey in our world.

So the next obvious step is to move back to Virginia and be with our warm blanket all the time. Home IS where the heart is. We are trying to buy a 7-acre farm in Virginia. Don't ask us why, we really don't know the answer. Probably something having to do with being a fun place for our grandchildren. It just fits us right now for some inexplicable reason. So we will be saying a sad goodbye to Maui and the people we have loved and suffered with, and in April, with God's help, we will be moving on to grayer pastures.

In closing, I would like to share this verse from Psalm 23 that the Lord reminded me of when we found the farm:

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in GREEN PASTURES.
He leads me beside STILL WATERS.
He restores my soul.

I'm trusting that this place of green pastures and still waters will help to restore our souls.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers. We love and appreciate you all.

Your faithful friends,
Joe and Karen


Heather said...

I am so happy to hear that you will be joining your family! I truly believe that this is the best thibg for you! And yes, we are still praying for you! .
We will pray for during this time as you say aloha to all your Maui friends and move back east. I love you guys and think about you and your family all the time. Love and Blessing, Heather Parker (Overholt)

anjuli paschall said...

praying for this new move in your lives. That home and property look beautiful and so fun for grand kids to run and play. in my prayers..

Anonymous said...

Dear Joe & Karen,

Wow !! Double Wow !! Awesome !!

I am almost "speechless". However, it makes a lot of sense.

Very exciting - you will love the East Coast. It's the birthplace of our nation and for Christianity in our country.

I am a little biased having grown up in Philly and love the culture, people and history.

Karen - Seinfeld is a good choice.

I know you are a "West-Coast" girl but I always thought you had some "East-Coast" girl too...

In Real Estate - they say the "key" is Location...

In Families & the Body of Christ - the "key" is relationships and being "closest" to those we love the most = our children & grandchildren...

You will "all" be just fine. GOD will continue to bless you and use you to continue to "bless others" wherever you go CA + HI = Virginia

Remember - to leave the "light" on for us...Hope to see y'all soon.

GOD's Love & Blessings,
Kevin & Shirley Cox (TN)

Anonymous said...

Dear Joe & Karen,

What wonderful news! God bless this next phase in life and I will continue to pray for you. You've both been such an inspiration to me and I can't thank you enough for your encouragement.


Lisa said...

Hi Karen, Joe,

Thank you for the snapshot of your life and your struggles. You both have been such a blessing to me and JB, and to Hope Chapel as well. I am so thankful to have had so many years getting to know you and your family, and working with you. I'm behind you 100% with this move. Let me know how I can help you, okay?


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing such an intimate part of your life with us. Joe and Karen I can not even begin to begin imagining your loss and how much you miss Joey. When I try to imagine what you are going thru and I picture losing hurts so bad that I can hardly take a breath. I am so so very sorry that you have to miss Joey...I know you all know you will make it but I am sure that does not make the missing any easier. We are all excited for you and this new journey, but I know we will all miss you so very very much! Wes and I (along with my kids) have so much to be thankful for because of you will ALWAYS hold such a special place in our hearts! There are no words to express our gratitude for the role you have played in our lives and our marriage!! We love you both so very much and look forward to the wonderful stories we'll get to hear about your new home close to your warm blanket!! xoxoxoxo Lori and Wes Ignacio

Anonymous said...

Dear Karen,
What you are going through is pretty "normal" as you have counseled many of us, many a time sitting in your office. You have now joined the majority of humanity and those of us who live out our lives with huge losses...we struggle to learn to live with them and go on with living and with letting God's strength be made perfect in our weaknesses...
When you say you don't follow through on things or don't leave home...many of us can identify with that, we do understand and we love you.
This change will be good and good for you. Love you very much and you are in my prayers, both you and Joe. I will see you soon.

lorensaved77 said...

Dear Karen and Joe
Some how I am not Surprised with this move your about to take...I new it was coming , just didn't think it was going to be so soon...
I know how it feels to want a change, to escape the familiar things, to start a fresh, I know that feeling and I don't blame you for wanting the Comfort of being with your Family.
We love you guys and I am so thankful for having had the opportunity to know you for such a short time but Special time!
That day will soon be here to say are goodbyes, but for now, Tea tomorrow morning on the beach sounds good...See you @ 10:00, can't wait...Let's Laugh ;-) Always good for the Soul!
Love you guys
Nancy and the Loren Family

Valria said...

Hi Karen and Joe...I can't imagine Maui and Hope Chapel without you guys!
We will miss you soooo much!!!
But I totally agree with you Karen...It will be a fresh start and God will continue to direct your path giving you peace, strenght and His love.
You are in our prayers!
Love you always,
Valeria Strand

Doug Spencer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug Spencer said...

Joe & Karen:

The minute I read your email, this is what came to my mind.

God bless you guys as you start a new life in Virginia. I've learned God always has a plan for us in moving us around and I'm sure He has big plans for you guys there.

Bill And Lu Kepler said...

Dear, dear frinds. Of course you need to go to your family. And Virginia is a wonderful place to be, and the green pastures and still waters will comfort your soul. But I will miss you very much, and like the selfish person I am, I am glad for you, but sad for me.
You have been good friends, and I know you will be our friends forever. You will always be drawn back here, and we will renew ties then. In the mean time, you will certainly be in the right place. What lucky people in Virgina, to have Joe and Karen in their midst! What great warmth, great leadership, great giving, are in store for them.
God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I can so totally understand your each and every word. I read it completly in tears and I only wish that I could not connect with all you were saying. Perhaps that is why coming back to Maui is okay with us. I am praying that you will find the peace you desire. Time......sometimes it just stops.
In our hearts
Nick and Sharon

Anonymous said...

karen and joe,
thank you for being so honest with your words. your words and faith are always a testament to how gracious and powerful our God is.

your hearts are wounded and the love of those closest to you will offer the most comfort. virgina isn't always gray, in fact when you get there you will experience the beauty of a new season and new life and i hope you will see it as a metaphor for why you are there.

your move from calif to maui was a huge move and a leap of trust that rewarded you with more blessings than you could ever have imagined. i just know your move to virgina will be the same! you have daughters, sons-in-law and grandkids that adore you. immerse yourselves in their love, make new friends (but keep the old!) and trust God for another grand adventure in life of joe and karen.
with love and continued prayers,
norma ryan

Garnett said...

Wow...thank you for sharing so much with us and so glad that you are joining your family in VA. You will truly be MISSED on Maui,but so happy that you have this calling and that you are listening to it. We pray for you and look forward to hearing about your adventure on the East Coast!
Love you so much, Garnett and Scott

Anonymous said...

Dear Johnsons
You are always in our prayers, wherever you are. I believe that God puts you where you are supposed to be. So I know this move is what God desires of His faithful servants. Take care and may God bless you in this new beginning.

Susan, Chris, Nathan